The Reality Test

23 September 2010

This is an idea I’ve been tossing around for a little while.  It’s not fully fleshed-out, may still need some work, so I hope you’ll understand if it’s got weak points.  (In fact, if you find some, please let me know via the comments section below; credit will be given where due.)

I call the idea The Reality Test.  It’s meant to be a double-check of any purported statement of fact or tenet of belief, or of those making the statements or holding to the tenets.  The Reality Test is a single question:

“Does this assertion or belief match up with what I and others have observed about reality?”

Pretty simple, right?  When someone says something that seems a little off, give it The Reality Test.  Does your own experience corroborate or contradict the statement?  Does it jibe with what you know about the field to which the statement is applicable?  Does it square with my core beliefs, those tempered by experience and study, about how the universe works?  Or, for that matter, with the stated core beliefs of the person making the assertion?  In short, does it agree with reality or try to go against it?

To a certain extent, we use something like The Reality Test every day.  When your boss tries to convince you that the (latest) reorganization will help the company, when your child is making excuses for why their homework isn’t done, when your spouse is attempting to justify an expensive purchase, you apply a version of The Reality Test on the spot, and shape your response accordingly.  This is just a codification of that same instinct.  It’s not perfect, obviously – sincere beliefs can still be sincerely wrong, and there has to be room left for faith (to cover what reason cannot) – but it should help sort out the more fragrantly obvious examples of horse manure.

Let me give you a few examples using The Reality Test, and then I’ll go into why I’m bringing this up right now.

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The continuing musical thread

23 September 2010

It happened over the weekend I was fooling around on the computer, while occasionally looking out the office door at whatever football game my wife (aka the Supermodel) was watching on TV.  (I’m no longer much of a football fan, but she most certainly is.)  And they kept running the new Apple iPod Nano ad …

I won’t link to it here, because I don’t really want to do anything to promote Apple Computer.  (Long story.)  But you know the ad — it’s the one where somebody kepps taking the Nano from one place while clipping it in another place, all to the tune of the Cake song “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”.  The upshot is that I get that Cake tune stuck in my head, and it won’t leave.

Thankfully, there’s an app for that.  Or more correctly, a website: UnhearIt.  The way it works is that if you have a song that keeps running around in your brain and want to get rid of it, you go to UnhearIt and it plays a different but equally catchy song to supplant the first tune.  If you don’t like the one UnhearIt throws at you, just click a button and it’ll try a different one, until you find one you want.  Simple premise; genius move to build a website around it!

And I told you all that to tell you this: it was there, while trying to throw up Cake, that I discovered “Single Ladies (In Mayberry)” …

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A pain in the … ankle, shoulder, back, head …

20 September 2010

Okay, my postings have been a little spotty lately.  I admit this.  Three posts in three weeks — not good for someone who said he was going to try to write something every day.

But for the last week, at least, I’ve had something that, in bad light, would vaguely resemble a decent excuse.  And I even have the prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants to prove it!

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Periodic Pingback: Bill James brings the perspective

13 September 2010

(Blogger’s note: Sometimes … aw, you probably know what Periodic Pingback is about by now.  If you don’t, it’s links to other stuff on the Internet, not created by me but that I thought too good to NOT share.  Okay, let’s get on with this bad boy!)

If I had to list my five favorite writers, fiction or non-fiction, I guarantee one of the slots would go to Bill James.  Bill mostly writes about baseball — in fact, he was not only a pioneer in the field of sabermetrics (the statistical analysis of baseball games and players), he coined the term “sabermetrics”!  He’s an incredibly intelligent, erudite, witty author, whose background in sociology gives him an insight into how the sport (and culture in general) works that you could never get from, say, Tim McCarver.  He can be laugh-out-loud funny at times, and can also turn dead serious when the need arises.

And when it comes to the continuing arguments over the legal pursuit of onetime steroid users in baseball (real or imagined), the need has apparently arisen.

I was over at Slate.com today and ran into Bill’s latest, a careful defense of rule-breaking.  Yes, you read that right.  Bill’s argument is that we need rule-breakers to some extent if a society is to grow, evolve or innovate, and that we imperil the culture if we try to tighten things up too much.  He also points out the need for balance, that we cannot afford to be too lenient any more than we can to be too strict, and that we should weigh how breaking a rule affects society as a whole.  (The example of Martha Stewart going to jail while the guys who brought down Lehman Brothers go free is, to quote Ferris Bueller, “so choice.”)

Anyway, you can read the entire article here.  It won’t make you laugh, or help you with your fantasy team, but it should definitely make you think.

(Also, apropos of very little, I finished chapter 4 of my Iron Man fanfic, Hearts and Souls, this afternoon.  You can read the entire saga so far here.  Didn’t want you to think I wasn’t doing any writing of my own …)


Back to work

9 September 2010

To put it mildly, our family has been through a lot of transitions over the last year and a half — our son’s illness, my mom’s death, a change of cars, a change of banks, my own rocky spiritual journey, financial thises and thats, and new responsibilities regarding the house we’re renting.  For the most part, the changes have made our lives more complicated rather than less, and added stress rather than reduced it.  Not to be Debbie Downer or anything, just sayin’.

So it’s kind of nice when something changes that’s a clear positive.  And in the last few weeks, we’ve had such a change.

Nina, my supermodel wife, is back at work.

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Took a couple days off

1 September 2010

(… with apologies to Huey Lewis & the News …)

Yeah, I been blog-gone since last Friday — for what I think are very good reasons:

  1. I was tired.
  2. I needed to rest.

Both of which will not exactly be news to the regular readers of this space — or to anyone who knows me.  What with all the stressors of the last year-plus, “being tired/needing to rest/not really knowing how to rest” has become a regular theme of my life and writing.  That’s been compounded in the last couple of weeks, as my wife Nina has gone back to work as a Special Education assistant (more on that later this week), and I’ve had to pick up sole care during the days for Sean again.  So my energy level, not high in the first place, took another dive.

Thus, I’m taking another run at learning how to rest.  And, with God’s help, I’m trying a new tack.

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