Sunday, August 2, 2009

Turn, Turn (Forty and Skeptical)

I recall conversations — and in some cases as-yet-unfulfilled plans — from college as though they happened yesterday, but somehow I’m turning forty one week from today (it’ll happen to you!).

•You may as well join in me in taking over the bar-restaurant Doc Watson’s that day, Sunday, August 9, 2009, at 11:30am, just by force of numbers and forming a loose brunchal birthday coalition.

And/or catch me at two other spots before that, which, come to think of it, will be a bit like retracing my steps in life:

•This Wednesday (August 5, at 8pm) our Debate at Lolita Bar will be on “Have We Ever Been Visited by Extraterrestrials?” — and like debater Lillian Waters (and a lot of people) I thought in childhood that the answer was surely yes, but I confess to turning skeptic — about everything paranormal or supernatural — as a teen (leading eventually to my science-promoting current job at ACSH)…

•…and refining that skepticism as a philosophy major, not unlike skeptical debater Jen Dziura, whose Friday (August 7, 9:30pm) one-woman comedy show about What Philosophy Majors Do After College I’ll also see this week.

I’ll remain civil and balanced as debate host, though — and a good skeptic (or philosophy major or science promoter) should always be willing to be persuaded by evidence.

And in any case, whereas in my youth I was more prone to think a handful of my philosophical opponents were crazy, I lean more and more as I (rapidly) age toward the highly tolerant and highly misanthropic opinion that virtually everyone is crazy, just in different ways.  At different points in my life, I kept thinking my opinion of humanity and the world couldn’t get any lower — yet it always does, sooner or later, and somehow I become, if anything, more happy and tolerant, I think (which is not to say I don’t find myself increasingly sick of politics, music, genre fiction, the scientific establishment, idiots, intellectuals, and common social behavior as I complete four decades).

Heck, if all goes according to plan, today I’ll probably end another weekend in DC (after a pundity party last night) with a lunch featuring my Catholic girlfriend, Helen Rittelmeyer, her Unitarian Universalist dad, and her atheist mom and me.  We can’t all be right (and thanks to everyone who responded to our appeal for a new Helen gig — some short-term work came of it, but a long-term gig for the writing, editing, and researching genius — especially in politics or history, and especially if located back in NYC — would be extremely helpful).

1 comment:

Tatyana said...

Ah, a fellow Leo.

Thanks to you (and Chaz) my own BDay a fortnight ago have culminated semi-spontaneously but perfectly, even -partially-in 3D; wish you the same effect on yours.

I think i’ll steal the passage on permanently lowering opinion of the world.

Happy coming birthday, Todd!