What's Up? (April 2017)
It's been 3 years since I wrote this story about joining the FSF, so I figured it was a good time to write another one of these updates to catch anyone up who happens to care.
First, let's talk about my psychological improvement since the last time I wrote one of these. If you've read the one from August 2014, you'll probably notice I was in a fairly depressed state and still hung up about my break-up. It's been plenty of time since then, and I feel a lot better now. Honestly, I'm a little embarrassed about how much I was dwelling on it at the time, but I'm not going to take down the entry. It was an important, character-building event in my life, and embarrassing as it may be, I wouldn't be the same if it didn't turn out that way.
Since joining the FSF, I've developed a much stronger political identity. I've learned to think for myself and how to notice inconsistencies in my thinking. I have a much more nuanced view on libre software, and I'm able to approach questions without having to refer to FSF publications to articulate my positions, and I've discovered where I personally disagree with RMS and the FSF on several issues. I've also found my political leaning to be strongly libertarian. I can't tell for sure if I mostly lean right or left, and I hesitate to call myself a centrist, because I find the term is pretentious. Right now, I'm finding myself going back and forth between support and question regarding anarcho-capitalism. I've been a strong nationalist for most of my life, and questioning the legitimacy of the state is causing some cognitive dissonance within me. We'll see where that goes with time.
One of the more notable changes for me recently is a drastic swing in religious views. About August of last year, I encountered the well-known debate between naturalist Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham regarding whether the Bible is important for living in today's world (or something like that). Most people detest that debate, seeing it as a waste of Nye's time arguing with an ideologue and giving creationists an opportunity to feel proud of their beliefs via confirmation bias. For me, though, as an intellectually honest creationist at the time, it was quite different. As I saw the real logic put before me, I realized the problem with how I was justifying my continued belief in the Bible.
I had known for a long time that evolution by Darwinian natural selection was well-established science. I (as many other Christians continue to do) merely adjusted my interpretation of the creation myth, thinking to myself that maybe evolution was just God's clever medium by which he created life leading up to Adam and Eve. However, listening to the debate, I realized that evolution necessarily requires the existence of death for it to operate, but death isn't said to occur until after original sin, which means the Bible does implicitly say that evolution didn't happen. After that, I suspended my belief in the Bible and called myself a "cold deist", meaning that I believed something did intentionally create the universe, but it did not intervene in any matter or otherwise tamper with the laws of physics.
I continued that way for a few months, and my mind was far more open to hearing people out who had opinions that previously unsettled me. I told my (quite religious) grandparents how I felt and stopped going to church with them. My grandfather is the only one to genuinely hear me out, and I gave him my copy of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, though he has yet to finish it.
After hearing what many atheists had to say, I slightly revised my position to "agnostic deist", finding that it was dishonest to say that the existence of a universe was evidence of a deity. Then, after reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, I crossed the threshold to "agnostic atheist", realizing that claims of a creator deity created more questions than answers, and the idea had no real influence over my life decisions anyway. That's where I still stand when writing this, and I see little chance of it changing.
On a different note, influenced by a slight uptick in violent crime in my hometown, I finally got around to buying a handgun and getting my concealed carry license. I made the purchase and started practicing back in December, and I got my license in the last week of March. For those curious, I carry a Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield loaded with Hornady Critical Defense, though I'm considering replacing the ammo with Federal HST 147 grain. I also carry a Ruger LCP II, currently loaded with some old JHP rounds I inherited, and I'm going to test some Hornady Custom in it to replace them.
I also joined the NRA as a life member, because I think that personal defense and a means to rebel against tyranny are the most important rights we have. Without those, we cannot possibly secure any of our other rights.
Also, since buying my first pistol, I brought down the rifles from the attic. I sold my old Marlin Model 60 and bought a Ruger 10/22 Takedown which I may eventually use for small game hunting. I also bought a Kel-tec KSG for home defense, and I tried to get my dad's M1 Carbine back in working order, but success eludes me. Maybe I'll get it fixed some time this year.
Things I'm up to now: reading Sam Harris' Waking Up, adding online multiplayer to Agario Checkers, finishing my fourth year of school, and planning to go to SELF this year, which will be my longest road trip yet.