Shimoniac Jones

I didn't lose my mind – it fled in terror.

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

The Christmas Season is Over, Hurrah!

So here we are on New Year’s Eve; basically the end of the typical holiday season. Your holiday season may vary. All I can say is, “Thank goodness that’s over for another year.” I wasn’t always this way; I used to really love the Christmas season and looked forward to it every year. I loved decorating the tree, decorating the house, all the presents, both giving and receiving.
“What changed?” I can hear you ask, out there in the blogosphere. Even if you didn’t, I’m going to tell you. I changed. I grew up and realized that Christmas was no longer a holiday, it had become an industry, and it’s been getting worse every year. That’s not merely a subjective belief, I have objective proof. Back in July a couple of chain stores ran a “Why wait until Christmas to have a Boxing week sale?” promotion. Manfully I kept from clawing my own eyes out and heaved a sigh. “At least it’s only for a week.” I told myself.
Now, fast-forward to December. Actually, you only have to go to Friday November 16th. I was heading into work, when I made the mistake of turning the radio on. Why was that a mistake? Because the first song I heard was a Christmas song and the second; I turned the radio off before the third. I mistakenly thought that the station, which is known for theme weekends, had decided to play a `Favorite Christmas Songs’ weekend. Since I don’t have any, I left the radio off until Monday.
Monday, I turned the radio on again; more Christmas music. I screamed; loudly. I think the bus driver in the lane beside me peed himself. I quickly changed stations and found one playing music that was acceptable. For the rest of the week I would go back to my usual station just to verify they were actually playing Christmas music five and a half weeks before the day, and quickly change it back to the backup station.
Of course, as soon as it turned into December, the rest of the local radio stations began adding Christmas songs to their mix. I began to play CDs in the CD player in the car.
Saturday November 17th, my company, cheap-skates that I find them, held their Christmas party. They have the annual party midway through November every year I’ve worked for them. I hold the firm belief that they do it this way to save money not having it during the rush in December. Thankfully, since it was still only November, the DJ didn’t play more than two or three recognizably Christmas song in the three and a half to four hours I was there.
I let him live.
Still, Christmas was a topic of conversation at my table. Two of the older ladies at my table bragged, bragged, about having almost finished their Christmas shopping. They had to gall to poll the rest of the table about our progress. I shut the discussion down when I asked, “Why should I shop now, Christmas isn’t for Five And A Half Weeks.” The one lady, who knows me better, remembered my rants from seasons past and went, “Oh, you’re such a Scrooge.”
I was insulted; offended even. I told them that Scrooge was an amateur compared to me. He had started out with such good intentions, but was seduced and betrayed by the tinsel side. I’m better than Scrooge, I’m Mr. Bah F***ing Humbug, thank you very much. The conversation went elsewhere, fast.
When December came along, I began to feel hunted. I pulled out my MP3 player and batteries for trips into stores. It’s amazing how calming it is to walk through a grocery store with AC/DC to keep you sane. I forgot the player one day, and had to make a naked run through the store to grab a couple of items. Naturally they were at opposite ends of the store and as far from the front door as possible. Whilst schlepping through the aisles, I had the misfortune to hear a Christmas song done in dirge tempo; I’ve been able to successfully repress the memory of which one it was.
I made a comment that I remember being appropriate to the lyrics at hand, referencing the dirge aspect of the song and the singer’s wish for a happy season. I said something to the effect that what would make me happiest right then was for the singer’s slow and painful death from some wasting disease, preferably involving laryngitis. I was startled by a stranger’s audible agreement with me.
Folks, I could have hugged that man. Perfect stranger and all; and I don’t swing that way.
I find that this post has concentrated on the musical reason I dislike the Christmas season. So, I’ll tell you why I hate the vast majority of Christmas music. There are only three Christmas songs that I like: Good King Wenceslas, Little Drummer Boy, and Deck the Halls. I’m a traditionalist; I like them done in the original, traditional, arrangements. However, it seems like every half-wit, tone-deaf, pop-star who’s been around for a year or so, releases a Christmas Album; said album contains his, her, or its version, interpretation, update, or reimagining of somewhere around 12 to 20 `Christmas Classics’. This ritual goes back decades. The idea of Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and/or Lady Gaga, doing Christmas songs makes me want to vomit.
To a certain extent, I don’t mind Elvis, Sinatra, or Bing Crosby doing their thing on Christmas songs. They could at least sing, and they more or less followed the traditional. It’s the ones who can’t sing and don’t follow the traditional that make me want to drive knitting needles into my ear drums. I don’t want to hear a rap Rudolph, a hip-hop Have a Holly Jolly, or a jangling Jingle Bell Rock. It nauseates me just thinking about it. I may even have a mild case PTSD because of it. I swear, one year, I’m going to snap and hold a fruitcake on a programming director until they agree to play nothing but hard rock until the New Year.
Next holiday to hate? Valentine’s Day.

Religious vs. Agnostic

You may have noticed that I claim to be a militant agnostic.  There’s a quote saying that an agnostic is an atheist without the courage of his convictions.  That’s simplistic and offensive.  It’s simplistic because it doesn’t think deeply into what agnostic means.  It’s offensive because it assumes that an agnostic is a moral coward.

The dictionary has multiple definitions for `agnostic’.  For convenience’s I’ve entered some so that you don’t have to navigate away look them up and not get back to me.

Noun:

  1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.
  2. a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
  3. a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic.

Adjective:

  1. of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism.
  2. asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.
  3. holding neither of two opposing positions.

Synonyms: doubter, empiricist, secularist, skeptic; disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; pagan, heathen, heretic, infidel.

The best simple definition of agnostic is, as far as I’m concerned, doubter or skeptic.  A skeptic is only a person who questions the validity of things claimed to be fact.  On a scale of 0 – 10, where 10 is an absolute unwavering belief in a god, gods, goddesses, or any combination thereof and 0 is a similarly absolute unwavering belief in the absolute lack of a god, gods, goddesses, or any such combination, I fall squarely at 5.  I don’t believe in them, or unbelieve.

In my opinion, and to me my opinion is the only one that matters, there is no evidence that any omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, supernatural, metaphysical being exists now or has ever done so; having said that, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack.

On an episode of Futurama, the character Bender is lost in space, and hosts a colony of intelligent beings who think of him as `God’, and no matter which path he followed, either direct intervention or absolute disregard, the beings are maimed and die off quicker than goldfish in a five-year-old’s room.  Later, as he drifts mourning the passing of his worshippers, he notices that the universe is blinking in a binary pattern.  He holds a conversation with an unseen being who, eventually, asserts that as a god to do it right, it has to look like you’re not doing anything at all.  That could be what whatever magical being is ordering the universe is doing.

How can we possibly know?  I can run a toaster, or a light switch, and I think I’ve even got doorknobs and dead-bolt locks figured out; an entire universe is just a little beyond me.  Watch the episode, it’s marginally worth it and I’ve over-simplified it to the point of being meaningless.  Besides, I may misremember key points.

I like the additional `militant’ tag because, to me, knowledge is based on objective proof or empirical evidence.  What people who believe have is faith.  While I have faith in the perversity of the universe, I also have proof of said perversity because I’ve seen it so often.  Besides, I’m pretty far from militant; people who have opinions just go around bothering each other.  I have views, outlooks, and things like that.  I try to be willing to change the way I think, or do things differently if someone comes up with a way that is better than mine.

If you keep an open mind, you never know what will drop in.

My sister and father attend, on a fairly regular basis a meeting of Free-Thinkers.  What are Free-Thinkers, you ask.  Well, Free-Thinkers are generally atheists who have banded together to oppose the rabidly religious among us who want to shove their way of doing things down every one’s throat, in opposition to the official separation of church and state.  One day, while at this gathering, a young man sat next to my sister and asked her how long she had been an atheist.  He was confused when she set him straight.  My sister’s not atheist, she’s a pagan; she worships differently from the mainstream, but she does worship.  Apparently he skipped the `thinking’ portion of the title.  That’s why I say they’re generally atheists, not all Free-Thinkers believe there are no gods.

My own view, which I state as seldom as possible, is believe, or not, what you want, but for the sake of sweet charity, keep it to yourself.

The origin of Shimoniac

 

The reasons I chose Shimoniac Jones as my pseudonym are multiple and various.  My father chose as a pseudonym the name Archon; this was back in the days of CB radios when no one was known by their real names.  For those of you younger than 30 or 35 who don’t know what a CB is, wiki it.  So, as I grew, I wanted a cool nom de guerre.  I started with Archon Jr., Archon II, etc; but I wasn’t satisfied with that.  I wanted something that was mine and cool.  I read, a lot, and I tried adopting some of the names and concepts from books that I particularly liked.

None of them worked.  None were what I considered me.

So, there I was, without a nom de plume that I liked.  I worked/volunteered at a community radio station back in the late ‘80s and we received music tapes from various sources, from people hopeful that we would put them on the air, make them famous.  This was wayyy before YouTube, Justin Bieber, and PSY.  One of the tapes we got was from the Canadian radio station CFNY, which is located in Toronto.  CFNY was, and maybe still, is an alternative music broadcaster that specialized in breaking out new acts and artists; perhaps one of their most successful successes is the group Barenaked Ladies.

The station I worked at received from them a cassette tape called Modern Music 1990, after listening to it a few times and playing it on the station, the music director asked me if I wanted it.  I’m always interested in free things, so I said yes.  The tape included probably the earliest recorded version of the aforementioned Barenaked Ladies’, `Be My Yoko Ono’.  However, aside from that, there was a Band called Electronic Dream Factory, and they had a song called, `So, What of Tomorrow?’.  In the song, as a chorus, are listed various sinners which can be condemned to Hell.  Most of the sins mentioned were ones whose definitions were ones that I already knew; so I went to a dictionary and looked up the definitions to the ones I didn’t.  You’ve guessed it; one sinner mentioned was `simoniac’, another was `barrator’.

A Barrator is one who is always at odds with others; a disturber of the peace.  That wasn’t me, the other one, however, was interesting and interested me.  Simony is the buying and selling of ecumenical offices, preferments, benefices, emoluments, etc.  That appealed to the junior iconoclast in me.

You may have noticed that I’ve added an `h’ to the word; if you didn’t, don’t worry.  I added that `h’ because I was interested in history and wanted to invoke the old Hebraic pronunciation of the name.  Scroll forward a few years to the invention of the Internet and the development of message boards.  Then, as now, probably 99.9% of posters used some sort of nom de plume, showing their interests, history, or whatever.  Some message boards wanted people to use their first and last names.

My own natural surname is Smith, but I didn’t want to use anything that was actually mine, so I added `Jones’ as a surname; Jones being the second-most common English-language surname.  When I go anonymous, I really go anonymous.

So, there you have it.  That’s the origin of another random, anonymous blogger’s name on the Internet.  Aren’t you glad you asked?

Greetings World, We Bring You The Fish.

My father has been blogging on WordPress for over a year now, and I thought I’d give it a try. I don’t know what, if anything I’ll post about. I don’t even know how often I’ll post. I mostly got the blog to park my nickname on lest someone else think it up.
In future posts, I’ll tell you what my nickname means. At least if you’re interested.
As the hardcore IMers would say TTFN.

Shimoniac

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