eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Tuesday, April 29

Beginner Guitar Practice Techinques

I asked a question several months ago about how to best practice chord changing on a guitar:


My question is, if there are any guitarists out there, how long does it take to get to where you can actually play 2 chords in a row without having to consciously stop and rearrange your fingers every time? Is there a practice technique to speed this up? Time to do some research...


Well, I've barely touched my guitar since then, but I did find what I think might be a useful answer. Basically, it occurred to me to set goals rather like one might for running a race or other "timed" event. I started out counting a beat and focused on changing the chord on the ... oh... 4th measure in 4/4 time - just to see whether I could. I soon realized that I could actually keep up with changing chords every 2 or 3 measures. I wasn't as horrible as I thought! (Which isn't saying much, I know, but it was a pleasant surprise for me). To an experienced guitarist, it probably sounds ridiculous, but it took me a minimum of 8 beats to get my brain and fingers prepared to switch notes. Once my brain and fingers were "ready", it still took me about 4 beats to actually perform the movement.

Once I got a sort of baseline as to what I "could" do, I set goals for improvement. Pretty soon, I could be "ready" to switch in around 4 beats and 1 to 4 beats for the actual change.

Before I came up with this strategy, I really had no idea whether I was really improving or not - whether the practice was actually working. It was very frustrating. Now, when I pick up the guitar, even if it's only for 5 minutes. I have something concrete to work towards and it's a much greater pleasure.

Tuesday, April 22

Lack of belief is still a Belief

A lack of belief is still a belief, so atheism is a belief and atheists by definition believe that God does not exist.

As a fellow atheist, I have seen this argument brought up many times. I have always had a sense that it fell short of giving any credence to religious belief but haven't been able to explain it very well.

Today, on the atheism.about.com site by Austin Cline, I found a discussion of this claim that I found to be unsatisfying. It also gave me some idea of how I might explain my own feeling that the claim, when made by theists, is a bit deceptive.

What's especially disconcerting about the above myth, commonly offered in response to being told that atheism is just a lack of belief in gods, is how insanely incoherent it is. If I told someone that lacking hair is still having hair, or lacking a hobby is itself a hobby, they'd probably ask whether I've been feeling OK and might even suggest counseling.

This analogy doesn't quite work.

Belief has a very different meaning from "having hair" or "hobby" such that an analogy can be tricky.

A more precise way to give an analogy would be to say that "one is lacking red hair." A lack of a belief in atheism is a lack of a particular belief but not necessarily a lack of any kind of belief.

So, technically, the theist isn't automatically logically inconsistent by making such a claim about atheists.

To take this further, I looked at a definition of belief:

Assent to a proposition or affirmation.

By this definition, it would be difficult to be a thinking person at all without having some sort of belief. Additionally, one who lacks a belief in a God could reasonably be said to have a belief (assent to the proposition) that "There is no God".

Ok, so what is the real problem with this claim?

I suspect it has to do with one's reasons for a belief and one's degree of certainty. A believer in God bases his belief on FAITH (no evidence based reason).

A believer in the idea "There is no God" or more tentatively "There very likely is no God" considers him/herself to be basing this on reason.

One might say that the belief of Austin Cline's is something like "I don't think anything exists unless there is good reason to think so." And likely, he has good reasons for thinking so (at least, I believe something like that, and I think my reasons for it are pretty good).

A theist would still be correct that he, indeed, has a belief, but it isn't a real argument. It is begging the question of whether one's reasons for having a belief are good.

Additionally, the claim is deceptive because there is another definition of belief which is based on faith or that it is about religion. In this sense, the meaning of belief is different when applied to theism (statement of religion or faith) than when applied to atheism (assent of a proposition).

Monday, April 7

Self Care

Almost a year ago, I wrote about the struggles I've had with hate and how I found some relief from it. I got an interesting comment on it and wanted to share it and reflect on what I've experienced and learned in the last year since I wrote about it.

One thing that I noticed in rereading the old post is that I didn't completely write out all my thoughts on the issue. I stopped a bit short although it's possible that a reader could have guessed at what I intended to say.

As it happens, the thing I meant to include is relevant to the comment. The thing I realized is that although it's nice if one can achieve some sort of peace by interacting with someone - getting understanding or acknowledgment from them, the real person I needed acceptance from was ... ME.

To someone who already feels this sort of inner peace/acceptance, it may seem trivial or obvious, but to me, it wasn't. It was the feeling of self-doubt - of feeling that I deserved bad treatment - that was at the root of hatred.

I should add that there are probably other things, other feelings that contribute to hatred, but, for me, those were less of an issue. I mostly try to think of people as doing the 'best' they can and as hurting others without meaning to or because they don't know of a truly better way to interact. I may want to keep my distance - to avoid being harmed - but I believe those can be healthy feelings.

I think of hatred as something where you want so see someone HURT, you want revenge, you aren't really thinking or having feelings about what's best for you... or them.

Although other people can certainly "hurt" me, they can't "make" me hate them and, generally, whatever they can do to me (emotionally) isn't nearly as powerful as what _I_ can do. In other words, the point of the old post wasn't whether I'd be loved or accepted by others. It was about my own feelings towards myself being the biggest stumbling block. I had long suspected it but had never found a good way to "convince" myself that I was "worth" treating better.

That said, there is another aspect to the comment that I'm not sure how to address. I think people really do need each other, or at least, they thrive from the care of others and wither without it. What do you do if you have no one around who really cares to help you? To nurture you?

I don't really know the answer to this, but my best guess would be: give it to yourself first. Nurture yourself. There's a book I read some months back that talks about this in more detail -
The Journey From Abandonment to Healing.

I have one other suggestion. I'm afraid I'm going to mangle it a bit because I read it long ago and am not sure where to find it again. It was what to do when one is feeling stuck. It was to make a change - a big one. And I'd add, if that doesn't work, maybe it wasn't a big enough change. I don't know that it matters what change so much because I think change gives one an opportunity to create new patterns of behavior, new paths.


Anonymous said...

Great advice. I'm not sure I found the answer to how to stop hating. I do know you are very correct about wanting human interactions, wanting to be loved and have someone care for you. ....but feeling like this is out of reach.


This comment came at an interesting time - where I'm stuck feeling something like anger and pain and maybe a bit of hate but it's a different person and an entirely different situation. It was good to be reminded of my own advice.