Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Pink Floyd Brings World Peace (kind of)

We went shopping at the mall tonight, the whole family. The kids went off their way and the wife and I went ours.

After an hour or so, we met up with the kids at Hot Topic. My wife picked out a necklace, and the kids various clothing and halloween costumery. I found a pair of Batman earrings and a cool Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” t-shirt.

The clerk was a tall, thin, dark haired guy in his late 20′ or early 30′s, with cool tattoos up and down both arms.

As he was ringing me up, he mentioned that he really like the Floyd t-shirt. This lead us into a discussion about how much we both liked Pink Floyd. It came out in our discussion that his favorite Floyd album is “The Wall”. I told him of this great CD I’d just got of Pink Floyd playing the entire album live. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the name of the album.

We chatted for a few minutes more, as he rang us up, about how we both play guitar and practically worship David Gilmore.

After leaving the store, I suddenly remembered the name of the album. I told the family to that I’d catch up to them and hurried back to Hot Topic and told the clerk the name of the album, “Is There Anybody Out There”.

Their was a kid, maybe 18 or 19 standing by the counter, a kind of geeky looking guy with ear buds in his ears. Upon hearing my comment to the clerk, he immediately chimed in and said that there was a Pink Floyd DVD of the same concert (something I didn’t know).

I think I replied, “Wow! Awesome!” or something to that effect. The clerk thanked me, seemingly truly grateful that I’d returned to tell him the name of the CD. The young guy had already gone about his business of shopping.

As I hurried back to my family, I was struck that, for a moment, three strangers from three successive generations were all suddenly able to make a connection stemming from a shared love for the same music. It reminded me that music, perhaps more than any other of the arts, has the ability to transcend age, race, nationality, and language, and unite people in ways no philosophy or faith can.

So, in the interest of world peace and harmony, turn up the volume and rock on!

October 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

From Faux Homeopathic Remedy to Absinthe

I saw an interesting TV commercial for a product called TagAway, which supposedly remove unsightly skin overgrowths (those icky lumps of skin that just seem to appear out of nowhere as we get older).  The ironic thing about this product is that is is being sold as a Homeopathic remedy, but apparently contains actual ingredients.  These include, “Thuja Occidentalis.  Other ingredients include Cedar Leaf Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil, Ricinus Communis Seed Oil” * What is ironic is that nowhere does it say anything about the X scale of the preparation. From what little I could find about TagAway, it would seem that it is a “real” product, not just water, like “real” homeopathic products (making it a fake homeopathic remedy (a redundant phrase if there ever was one!).   I can’t verify much about TagAway’s real effects, except that you shouldn’t ingest it.  Buyer beware.

What does this have to do with absinthe, you wonder?  Both absinthe and TagAway contain Thujone.  Although modern absinthe contains Thujone in very, very small amounts (less than 10 ppm), it is thought that traditional absinthe contained more Thujone and that it was Thujone that was responsible for the supposed hallucinatory properties of absinthe.  It turns out that recent studies have shown that absinthe’s psychotropic effects are no different than that of regular alcoholic spirits.  The other thing that TagAway and absinthe have in common is that they both contain ingredients from plants and herbs, although, as noted about, don’t drink TagAway (the skin dissolving properties of absinthe aren’t known, are far as I can tell).  

What is really interesting about absinthe, at least to me, is that many authors and artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were regular drinkers of the stuff (there is a nice list of them here and here).  They sang it’s praises and even wrote poems, stories, films, and painted paintings dedicated to it.  There is a mystique and romance surrounding absinthe, something almost magical, from a vibrant and creative period of art history.  If you are a writer or artist like myself, absinthe is very alluring and compelling.  

Unfortunately, I have yet to try absinthe.  After threading my way from fake homeopathy to absinthe across the silky web of the internet, I certainly intend to try it soon.



October 6, 2012 Posted by | Skepticism | , , , | Leave a comment



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