The Heat is On

Weird ones, the world keeps getting stranger. Lately, my time has been devoted to working overtime and creating visual art rather than writing. Having people dig the strange things I draw and paint is a n honor and totally blows my mind.

Being part of shows with incredibly talented people has really forced me to reexamine what I do and what ways of expression I can utilize best to get my thoughts and feelings into a workable space. I now feel like I have better artistic direction than before.

I know what I enjoy and how to go about doing my best with it. In fact, soon I will start working on drawing what will become a comic strip here on the interwebs for your entertainment. The characters and stories make me laugh, so the count is at least one in the fan department.

Stay tuned for more posts of art and info about upcoming shows where my work can be seen and purchased. Thanks for reading and visiting this strangely scattered page. Keep it weird folks.

I Know A Guy Who Saw An Angel?: Why You Need A More Convincing Set of Data to Sway Me

ImagePeople, we need to have a chat. I am starting to get a little worried about you. Every day that I log on to ye olde world wide web, I see a plethora of shared stories and links to various reports and pieces of “evidence” regarding a myriad of conspiracy theories and supernatural occurrences on my Facebook timeline (i.e. government micro-chipping, the stealing of your guns, angels stopping car crashes). These articles and links, most of which go to random opinion blogs, political think tank sites, and FOX News, are flooding the web with sensationalized half-truths and outright poor logic based on anecdotal evidence and often poorly researched reporting. This type of “information” dissemination is leading us all into snap judgements, overreactions, and intellectual laziness.
Few individuals are doing any background research or challenging these silly assertions. Those that do are usually shouted down by the emotional Kool-Aid drinkers and the many “bots” unleashed to protect the positive image of a given news source at all costs. Ladies and gentleman, this just won’t do. You deserve better and so do I. So, let’s talk a little bit about evidence.
An important point must be made about the two types of evidence often used to help you distinguish between good arguments for your stance and poor ones. Let’s start with some definitions:
anecdotal— adj
containing or consisting exclusively of anecdotes rather than connected discourse or research conducted under controlled conditions (dictionary.com)

scientific- adj
regulated by or conforming to the principles of exact science: scientific procedures;
systematic or accurate in the manner of an exact science. (dictionary.com)

These are important distinctions to make. The strength of your argument relies heavily on the type of evidence you use and the quality of it’s collection. One of the best ways to collect data is the scientific method. So, what is the scientific method?


1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.

2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.

3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.

4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments. (http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu/phy_labs/AppendixE/AppendixE.html)

5. Repeat.

This is arguably the best method for securing sufficient evidence for your claim. And science isn’t just test tubes and beakers. Social sciences collect immense amounts of data that can be observed and studied in great detail about a vast amount of issues. These types of scientific tests follow the same basic method as any lab experiment. All claims must be tested repeatedly and every factor must be accounted for, subjected to peer review, revised, retested, reevaluated, and so on. The standard is rigorous. And the evidence is, therefore, far stronger than any coincidence or anecdote that you may have as an example.

For instance, logic based on pure anecdote or coincidence isn’t sufficient. Example: I tell my daughter that Santa is real. She then tells us, and everyone that will listen, that she heard Santa on the roof and that he brought presents to her that none of us remember buying. She holds out a toy that we simply don’t recognize or remember. We then go and tell it on the mountain that Santa is truly real and has manifested himself to our child. Her belief, that came entirely from our insistence to her that he was real (remember, she’s three years old), now proves to us that he must exist when coupled with well placed coincidence (not remembering where one of her trillion toys came from.)

Folks, there is no Santa. And saying that a child’s depiction and perceived experience of him proves that this mythical being visited our condo building is simply foolish. Is it a nice idea? Maybe (although the thought of a fat, bearded dude watching me when I am sleeping and breaking into my home to eat my Oreos sounds terrifying.) But no matter what comfort it may bring, the fact remains that our evidence is flawed. And if you use this with me, I won’t believe anything you say. And you should hold me to the same standard. It makes us all better.

Every time that you post an article that insists an obvious reflection or refraction of light is an angel or spirit or el chupacabra, you look silly. Now, I am not telling you that your belief in those things is silly (that’s another discussion that we won’t have here), but I am telling you that the evidence you are presenting as definitive is actually shoddy. Just because someone you know felt a “presence” or the batteries on the camera died in the cold basement doesn’t mean that the supernatural exists. Seeing a shape that you personally can’t explain (and don’t try to explain with research or deeper digging) on a screen doesn’t mean that an angel visited you or that the ghost of Bea Arthur is trying to thank you for being a friend from beyond the grave.

I understand that sometimes these beliefs bring you comfort and happiness or prove to you that fearing the government and preaching the gospel of Ancient Astronaut Theory is worth your time. But maybe, just maybe, this type of evidence isn’t really sufficient to prove yourself correct or sway a more inquisitive mind. Your anecdotes and emotional appeals don’t make you correct. They just don’t.

I want you to be happy. I really do. The universe has an abundance of beauty and I want you to enjoy it all. Also, I don’t know everything and there very well may be some things that we call supernatural now that turn out to be true. Maybe some planet has unicorns. But this doesn’t mean that you can prove any of it with poor evidence and an “I just believe it” explanation. You should never expect me to be converted to your viewpoint or change mine when you don’t offer any solid evidence and refuse to allow me to question or examine the evidence you do give because it makes you feel “offended.”

When I question these things you post, I am not questioning you as a person (even if you misguidedly believe that you are somehow able to be negated by the negation of an idea or belief) and I certainly don’t think that you are less valuable or meaningful than I. But I am questioning whatever it is you “share” with me on the web. I have to. It is the only way to better understand the world around me and to identify the silly things that we hold as truth when they are potentially harming us or inhibiting our ability to more fully live this brief human moment that we actually share. These arguments and bits of “evidence” cease to hold their form the moment you reach out to touch them. They are all vaporous illusions obscuring the reality of our embodied humanity. They blind us and separate us from one another.

I love you all, but in all seriousness, if I see another article that takes advantage of a sick child to prove a spiritual stance that they learned from their parents in the first place or a blog post that tries to convince us that  freaking lizard people are running the world I will probably lose myself in the moment and make a snarky comment that cheeses you off. Prepare yourselves, because if I can’t have a laugh, I am going to cry.

Traces of Me: Of Self and Selfies

Julia Margaret Cameron, Portrait of Alice Liddell, 1860's

Julia Margaret Cameron, Portrait of Alice Liddell, 1860′s

When I look at old photographs of people and places long since gone, I often wonder about what they may have been thinking. What was on their mind while they waited to have their image captured? We often think that everyone thought and felt so much differently in our past than we do now. But this is quickly made opaque when reading and viewing the personal writings and histories of these persons. Their humanity shines through and they reveal themselves to be extraordinarily similar to us in regard to our intellectual and emotional lives. Their questions, qualms, and pains are so very much like our own. How interesting that human experience remains consistent over such a large amount of relative time.

I wonder, what manner of harm might be done to our ancestors by the mighty machines with which we document every moment of our modern lives. What connections to their past are we usurping from them? They won’t have those rare glimpses into the humanity of our lives. No, they will instead wade through a sea of binary coded records detailing our lunches, favorite TV programs, and millions of “selfies” that replace the revealing portraits of our past with a flood of the most vapid and banal pieces of self documentation assembled in human history. Our journals and precious Polaroids with which we once left behind our most human traces of soul will become Instagram albums filled with images of us “twerking” at McDonald’s and five hundred pictures of our cat who may or may not “haz a sad.”

It seems that we’ve forgotten the privilege and purpose of documentation. We’ve lost sight of the miraculous beauty and wonder of language. Now that we can make note of every second of our lives from a tiny machine in our pocket we feel it necessary to capture them all rather than select our most defining moments. Humans are rapidly becoming a being that believes the assertion: “I tweet, therefore I am.” But I assert the counter claim: “I’ve been copied, therefore I no longer am.” The capture of our every breath in indestructible perpetuity leaves no space for life to be lived between the moments that define our selves. It is a negation of the “I” inherent in each person that is filled with a “we” that does not collect our lives as anthology but as statistical data. If the sum of you as a being lies copied and coded on a Google server in an air conditioned room somewhere, where then do you reside? And where is it that your ancestors will find you again one day? Will you live on through the finest pieces of your essence crafted, presented, and preserved as your mark in this world or will you be a collection of mass behavioral observation data? If you want true immortality, put life into what you leave behind and you will never die. But I assure you, if you aren’t careful, you’ll leave life behind long before you die.

16019

Reflections of Fall

16019

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the way that it clings to the daylight like a desperate lover. It walks the edge, one foot in the grave. The whole world is dying and only a few leaves notice at first. But then, they fall. They fall like each of us will one day, to the dirt to decay, to fade and feed the next oblivious being. The grey skies and dimly lit dusk that never seem to recede give me hope that the rain will wash this all away, cleanse this putrid skin I wear. It gives a hope that the trees which turn to fire overnight aren’t burning down but becoming beacons of brilliant flame lighting the way back into the desolation of our earthen womb. The dirt will swallow us whole the same way it spit us out. And as the chill wind of fall brushes my spine like an unexpected whisper, I am reminded once again just how desperate this lover can be.

marriage-equality

On Marriage Equality by Eric Mack

(The following post is written by a guest writer to this site and reflects the opinions, thoughts, and feelings of that writer. They have been invited to utilize this blog as a forum to share their point of view at length and engage in dialogue in a broader arena than certain social media sites have afforded them. Please note that when you respond to this post, you are responding to them and not to the primary editor, author, and administrator of MetalheadTakesTheSquare. Thank you.)

Author: Eric Mack

It is time to address a hot button issue about which many have raised their voices. We need to keep in mind that this issue must be evaluated in the eyes of the law when deciding public policy. We need to ask ourselves the following: Does same-sex marriage infringe upon the rights of others? Does banning same-sex marriage infringe on the rights of homosexuals? Does same-sex marriage benefit society?

Let’s look at the first question we need to ask. If same-sex marriage was legalized, would anything change for heterosexuals? The answer is clearly no. There would be nothing that would have to change in the everyday life of people around a married homosexual couple. Homosexuality is not a contagious disease. Therefore, no one can just catch it. So there is no harm to others if gay marriage is legalized.

Does banning same-sex marriage infringe on the rights of homosexuals? The answer here is a clear yes. There are many tax laws that benefit married couples. If homosexuals are not allowed to marry, we would be depriving citizens of liberty. The Declaration of Independence states, that all men deserve the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If same-sex marriage is banned, at least two of these will be taken away from homosexuals, and you could argue that life may be harmed for them as well.

If same-sex marriage is banned due to the arguments of, “The Bible defines marriage as…” and “God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” then the right of religious freedom will be nonexistent. This country was founded upon the belief of religious freedom. However, if these are the main arguments to ban same-sex marriage, the belief of Christians is being forced upon the whole country. Therefore, it would be unconstitutional to ban same sex marriage based on these two statements. These two statements make a great case for same-sex marriages to not take place in Christian Churches. Marriage in the Church should be limited to heterosexuals if that is belief held by that church. However, the legalization of same-sex marriage, is not a religious issue.

Now, can we say that same-sex marriage would benefit society? The answer here is yes as well. According to adoptuskids.org, more than 20,000 children “age out” of foster care every year. The site also states that 250,000 children are available for adoption every year. Adoption is obviously the one of the few ways a same-sex couple can have a child. Ideally, it is best for a child to have a mother and father in his/her life. However, having two loving parents is much better than having nothing. We have all heard the joke: “People need a license to drive. There should be a license to be a parent.” Keep in mind that homosexuals cannot have children by accident.

There are a few things to remember about same-sex marriage. One of them is to think as an American and not let your religious belief affect your decision. Religion can not be a factor in this decision. Secondly, it must be remembered that every U.S. citizen is entitled to the same rights (with the exception of criminals). Lastly, think about society. No matter what Religion you are, we are all Americans and that is the only way we can approach this topic.