Carv's Thinky Blog I'm an author with a focus on satirical sci-fi and agnostic commentary.

7Mar/170

Why It Happens

This morning my wife told me a story about a woman who discovered the profile of a guy she was flirting with on an online dating site was a sham, designed for the goal of exploiting women like her. Basically, the guy pretended he was someone else in the hope of soliciting nude pics and/or sexual hookups. My wife asked me why guys do that. It's a tough question to answer. See, I abhor guys who do that. And if I'm able to explain it, doesn't that mean I sympathize with guys like him, people who are basically sexual con artists?

Well...I think I do know where some of this comes from. But please, please understand and believe me when I say I'm in no way endorsing this behavior. If you're a guy who sends unsolicited crotch pics to women, you're on your own, dude. Not only do I find such behavior boorish, I'd be shocked if it even achieves senders' goals. I can't imagine a blushing bride recalling, "I was sitting at home minding my own business, when Joey here sent me a photo of his penis. I mean, I barely knew him! He was just some guy who worked on the other side of my office! But the moment I saw that photo, I called my mom and said, 'Well, Mom, start planing a wedding, 'cause this is the one.'" More to the point, can the reciprocation rate possibly be worth the risk and trouble? This is the kind of thing that should get more guys fired.

What I do know is this. Growing up, I somehow absorbed the notion that a man's true value was measured largely by his ability to get laid. I didn't act on that, mind you; I was still one of Jehovah's Witnesses back then, and I took their anti-premarital-sex policy seriously. But I did assume all my high-school friends were shagging each other all the time when I wasn't around, and I understood all too well it made them cooler than me.

In college, I was no longer a Witness. Instead, I was a serial monogamist. When I made a relationship agreement, I stuck to it. But as my "number" increased, however slowly that happened, I felt better about myself. I was never the handsomest guy on the block, or even in my own house, though, so I had to learn "game" to land those first and second dates. I developed a comedian's patter and a knack for the unexpected but memorable romantic gesture. Yeah, I did okay on that front. I'm not bragging. I'm sure most of the other guys in my circle posted higher numbers. I'm just saying I did well enough I could feel relatively okay about myself.

Now. Let's go darker. Imagine there's a guy with my looks, or lack thereof, and no game. Imagine a guy who possesses no special wit, no creativity, no career to keep his wallet full of spending cash. Imagine that guy's social life. Imagine a guy--I don't know, maybe this is tough for some people to envision. Imagine a guy who has very little prospect of having sex with another person in any given week. Or month. Maybe even the next year. Understand that this guy's sense of self-worth, his own self-perceived value as a human being, comes largely from his ability--or lack thereof--to have sex with another person. I'm not saying he should use that metric to judge himself. I'm saying he does, because his culture's spent decades making sure he felt that way. If you were that guy, how would you feel? I'm not trying to get anyone to empathize with a sexual predator. I'm just saying I believe I might understand. I don't approve. I don't condone. I have no interest in further normalizing any of this. I'm just saying I think it's what's at the root.

See, a lack of self-worth is an intolerable situation. It can't be borne. We'll go to vast lengths to make that go away. We'll do stupid things, crazy things, to feel any kind of better about ourselves. If you don't think that's true, consider all the crazy things we do to lose weight...gain hair...lose hair...lift our breasts...hasten our erections...minimize wrinkles...maximize dental whiteness. We spend significant fractions of our few days on earth making ourselves look better. And we can say, "I'm not doing it for you, I'm doing it for me"--which is true. Sure. It is. But when I do it, I'm doing it at least partly so you'll help me feel better about me, by complimenting me, looking at me favorably, perhaps even sleeping with me. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't care how much hair I've lost. I'd lose only enough weight to keep myself out of immediate heart-attack danger, and that'd be fine with me.

The problem, I think, is how we treat sex in western culture. By creating and insisting on a complex code of rules and taboos and thou-musts and shalt-nots about it, we all but ensure it'll be central to our feelings of value. I can understand that set of rules in a world where sex runs a high probability of inciting pregnancy. In that world, yes, one needs a system of cultural rules to ensure guys stick around and help care for little humans. But in a world with effective, affordable contraception and meaningful sex education and yes, safe first-trimester abortion as a kind of last resort, that approach makes less sense. In that world, sex doesn't have to be as dangerous as it is in our world. It also doesn't have to be as venerated.

I know this sounds crazy, but maybe what we need is a world that doesn't find sex all that special. We need a world where women feel valued for their brains, absolutely, but we also need a world where the amount of sex a guy is able to have or the number of sexual partners he acquires (whether through seduction or something uglier) has no bearing on how we feel about him, nor on how he feels about himself. Gandhi wasn't amazing because he was a stud muffin. Hedy Lamarr's sexual attractiveness wasn't the most interesting thing about her. We don't need to live like this. We just do.

I hope I've made it clear I'm sex-positive. I think sex is natural and fun and good exercise and often hilarious, even for two people who may not be each other's true loves for life. I'm in favor of people dressing or undressing however much they want, whenever they want, and I don't consider exposed skin a sexual invitation. I don't think a culture of puritanical clothing ends sexual desire. I'm not even convinced it's any safer for women. The problem isn't how we enforce rules against sex. It's not that we don't have enough sexuality in our culture. The problem is we act like it's the brass ring of male existence, so of course our male culture demands women present themselves as sexually attractive--and available, for me but not for him (because even if you sleep with both of us, that wouldn't raise my value relative to his). It's appalling. It creates so much risk and mistrust and ugliness. But I have to let you know, this doesn't happen because men are generally happy or fond of themselves. In fact, I think the opposite must very often be true. And while that isn't as sad as rape or sexual harassment--not by a long shot, of course--it's still no sunny afternoon at the beach.

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Filed under: Sexuality No Comments
6Sep/160

Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride Hits Shelves TODAY!

Woohoo! At long last, you can hold a copy of Mr. Klein's Wild Ride in your hot hands TODAY! If you live outside the South Sound, it's available on Amazon in print here and electronically for Kindle here. Either way, it's a mere $12, a hell of a lot cheaper than tickets to a high-end theme park like, say, Bliss Panerotic.

If you do live near me, you can come see me in person tonight at 7 at Olympia's Browsers Bookshop, 107 Capitol Way N, where I'll read an abridged version of Chapter 1 followed by a related short story, "Retreat." I'll read the same pieces Thursday at 7 in Tacoma, thanks to King's Books at 218 St. Helens Ave. I'll sign books and answer questions from listeners at both events.

I sold a handful of advance copies last night at Creative Colloquy Olympia, and I've already started doing interviews about the book, so I have some idea what I'll be asked this week. Here's a mini-FAQ to get the conversation rolling:

Q: Why did you use a pen name for this book?

A: Books with sex in them sell better when they're written by women. That's the most relevant answer. But I also wanted to shield my wife, my family and myself from folks who would judge the book's subject matter harshly. It didn't seem fair to my in-laws, for example, to drag them into the conversation. So last summer when the first e-book edition was released, I did my best to con people into thinking Lynn Savage was a real person and I was just her sometime writing partner. But of course Lynn is me, and my in-laws have gotten so used to my nonsense by now that I don't think this will rattle them much.

Q: Will your family read the book?

For the most part, no, and I suspect we're all happier that way.

Q: Can you give me any sex tips?

I can, but mostly they center around communication and body comfort.

Q: Admit it, you're a swinger, right?

I'll tell you I'm open-minded, but otherwise my marital secrets are staying that way. It's only fair to my wife.

Q: Yeah, but really, though, you two are freaks, I bet.

It's interesting to me that when I wrote about Oklahoma religion in Lightfall, no one assumed I was a Freewill Baptist. If I wrote a spy thriller, no one would think I walk around with a garrote in my pocket. But when I wrote about sex, everyone assumed it was an autobiography. The sex had by Gary and Summer Klein in this book is about fictional characters, not me. This isn't the Penthouse letters column.

Q: Why isn't there a real theme park for swingers?

Because swingers tend not to have billions of dollars.

Q: If I tell you I'm a swinger, is that gonna get weird?

No. When I told people I was writing a book about an adult theme park, folks in "the lifestyle" came out to me by the dozens. That is not an exaggeration. I found myself with a mountain of anecdotal research material, most of it fascinating.

Q: Do you really believe people will have sex with robots someday?

You and I probably won't, but yes, I think that will happen. It kind of does now. In fact I believe the day will come in my lifetime when a person seeks to marry an artificial intelligence, ambulatory or otherwise.

Q: Will you sign my book?

If I see you in person, absolutely. The nature of the book might even make that inscription rather special. But if you live anywhere away from western Washington, I'm afraid I probably won't. It costs more for me to ship you a book than I can profit by selling it. These things add up. Also, my publisher can't spring for an out-of-state book tour, so my friends around the country are out of luck. I would, however, happily accept gifts of plane tickets and couch stays if you're really that excited about it.

Q: Is this book erotica?

That's a subjective question, but my gut response is no. I have no intention of being coy. My feeling is if you plan to write about sex, your book had better be sexy. So yes, when it came to the sex scenes--of which there are several--I was trying to turn readers on. (I'm told by male and female readers I succeeded.) I don't fade to black at the moment of truth, nor do I suddenly get all dainty about my language. But the overall intent of the book is not to titillate. It's to incite conversations about sex, a taboo topic in most cultures including ours, and to ask whether monogamy deserves to be the prevailing marital arrangement in the 21st century. Also, I try pretty hard to make readers laugh.

Q: Shame on you for even talking about this.

No. Flatly, no. I feel no shame whatsoever. I expected to, kind of, but I don't. Sex is great. Most of us enjoy it very much. It's terrific to share your body and time and care and joy and passion with someone whose company you enjoy. Rape is awful; pornography is a mixed bag of awful and helpful. Erotica is often badly written but usually harmless, if not helpful. Sex itself is phenomenal. Even the Bible thinks so, at least from the Song of Solomon's perspective. If your religious culture and/or upbringing have made you ashamed of your body and sexual appetite, I can sympathize, but otherwise that isn't my concern. I don't have to be party to other people's hang-ups. I can share my voice--and, behind the scenes, the voices of people I've loved for years--to share the message that sexuality is a core element of what it means to be, and love being, a grown-up human person. Your body, male, female or indeterminate, is your personal property to use, display and share as you see fit. Your childhood pastor does not get a say in that. I get no say in that. If you want to stay celibate and live in a burlap sack, have a blast. I do not. Neither of us is inherently wrong. I do not believe sex, married or otherwise, is a sin. I don't believe sin is even a thing. I believe unkindness is a thing, as are dishonesty, betrayal, cruelty, and a lot of other traits and behaviors that exist within sexuality. But do you honestly believe God gives a care what consenting adults do with their crinkly bits? If He did, then why make them so much fun? Now that human beings have invented contraception and STI preventatives, I believe the real sexual fun park exists all around us.

And this, my friends, is just one tiny phrase in the grand tale of why Carv will never, ever run for public office.

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31Aug/160

We Ride! (UPDATED 8/31)

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride

--UPDATED WITH NEW APPEARANCES!--

Friends, I've been telling you I have big news, and I have big news. The good people at Mud Flat Press are publishing a brand-new print edition of Lynn Savage's sexy 2015 novel Mr. Klein's Wild Ride. The official publication date is Tuesday, Sept. 6! At 7 that night, I'll appear at Browsers Bookshop in a downtown Olympia debut event called "A Wild Ride With Christian Carvajal." Hey, some titles just write themselves.

If you aren't an acquaintance or family member who'd be embarrassed by unrepentant sex talk, I sure hope to see you there! The event itself is free. The novel is a trade paperback, so we're able to keep its cost at a low, LOW $12. I'd love to sign a copy for you! And while you're there, pick up a tall stack of reading at the amazingly refurbished Browsers Bookshop.

If you can't be there, perhaps you can make it to King's Books in Tacoma two nights later! That event also starts at 7, and of course I'll be reading and signing there as well.

If you simply can't wait that long, you can catch a shorter reading at Creative Colloquy Olympia on Monday, Sept. 5, at 6:30 p.m. in Lacey. "CC Oly" is a terrific monthly event no matter who's reading, one it's been my pleasure to host in months past.

You can also just order the book directly from Amazon, and it'll be in your sweaty palms a few short days later. Because it's already for sale there! Same goes for the Kindle edition!

I mean, come on. How exciting is this?

We'll really be kicking out the jams at the "Creative Colloquy After Dark" segment of Creative Colloquy Crawl on Oct. 5, and I bet I have more to say about that down the road.

Here's the official book description from Mud Flat Press:

Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride is the tale of Gary Klein, a marketing guru who accepts the job of brand manager for a sexy new theme park...at which point his life and his marriage spin into chaos. His tragicomic downfall culminates at Bliss Panerotic, a paradise for lovers and a feast for the senses. It's an island playground for couples whose lust for adventure knows no bounds. Mr. Klein's Wild Ride is a satire that calls to mind Jurassic Park and Exit to Eden, yet merges its own cutting-edge technology with polyamorous sexuality.

Are you ready to walk on the wild side?

Preview Mr. Klein's Wild Ride by clicking HERE!

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9Aug/160

Paradise Lost

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride

--by Lynn Savage

Not since the RMS Titanic sank on its maiden voyage has a luxury product rollout gone so tragically wrong. Seventeen people were killed in Bliss Panerotic's opening-weekend disaster last year, with hundreds more injured. Some claimed it was God's vengeance against a flesh pit of sexual decadence. Around the world, millions of swingers and polyamorists quietly go about their business as they have for most of a century, living it up in their nonconformist lives with nary a lightning bolt from heaven in sight. Yet it's hard not to see the Bliss Panerotic adult theme park as a target when reminded of news graphics like the one shown below.

GNN quake graphic, June 13, 2015

GNN quake graphic, June 13, 2015

 

The devastation, of course, was unforgettable.

Commissary pavilion near the Grand Entry in Zone 2

Commissary pavilion near the Grand Entry in Zone 2

 

Sanasana hotel, northern lawn

Sanasana hotel, northern lawn

 

From the Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2015

From the Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2015

 

I'm using this space to remind you of all that sadness, but I want you to know that Mr. Klein's Wild Ride isn't the story of a tragedy. It's the story of a dream, a dream deferred perhaps, but a wonderful dream all the same. It's the enriching dream of sexual enjoyment, boundless and saved from puritanical repression. It's the dream of a woman who declared of Bliss Panerotic, "It’s not empowerment, it’s the presumption of power. The taking of power. It’s me owning my power." It's the dream of a man who reminded us all to get naked and see what happens. Above all, it was the dream of thousands of park visitors, who swarmed to a rocky island off the coast of California in pursuit of their bliss. My book is a tribute to the freedom they envisioned.

Early mockup of the Bliss Panerotic park map, provided by Gary Klein

Early mockup of the Bliss Panerotic park map, provided by Gary Klein

 

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4Aug/160

Bliss!

Hi, folks! Lynn Savage here. It's appropriate that my book, Mr. Klein's Wild Ride, should be reintroduced on Carv's Thinky Blog, as it was Carv who first got me interested in its subject. He wrote an article called "Pilgrims in Pornland" for Western Zeitgeist, a pop culture journal for which I contribute a love/sexuality column. His primary source for that article was Gary Klein, an L.A. marketing guru who served as brand manager for Bliss Panerotic. Bliss, of course, was the controversial amusement park that opened and closed so spectacularly on Catalina Island in 2015. It promoted itself as a getaway for swingers, honeymooners, and other couples and singles interested in expanding their sexual boundaries in a safe, modern resort environment. A flyer for the park appears below.

 blissflyer

Of course, the project was plagued with shaky publicity from the start, but Klein did much to dispel the concerns of investors and potential visitors. The Realms of Eros multi-user computer game created in support of the park is still selling in the millions of copies. Klein can hardly be blamed for the project's downfall--but when you think (or tell a joke) about Bliss Panerotic, his may well be the first name that comes to your mind. Carv introduced me to Gary this last year, and I communicated with both men frequently through the final stages of park construction. While I was unable to attend the grand opening, it was the expense of a trip to southern California rather than any controversy that scared me away. In retrospect, of course, that was fortunate, but so was my access to Gary. He's an interesting fella who has much to say about the Bliss Panerotic debacle, what the resort aspired to be, and what it means in the context of modern relationships.

So, you may ask, is my book, taken straight from a year of interviews with Gary, sexually frank? You bet your naughty bits it is. Will it turn you on? I sure hope so. Will it inspire you to think about sex, love and marriage in the twenty-first century? I believe it will. Some of you had the chance to read the e-book last year, but now things are heating up again! Watch this space for more details!

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17Jul/150

Funnel Cake

For years, I thought the only things a person had to know in order to be an author for a living were a.) how to write a good book, and b.) how to write an appealing query letter. It turns out that's completely untrue. Over the course of my career, I've been obliged to learn web and print design, HTML, Photoshop, Audacity, podcasting, audiobook recording and editing, sound normalization, video editing, SEO, and motivational speaking and marketing, just to name a few. For example, one thing I learned about ebook marketing is it's best to lead potential readers to one's book by way of a funnel. A funnel, in this context, is a freebie that both arouses interest in the book and sends interested parties in its direction. A funnel I'm using to promote Mr. Klein's Wild Ride is the Tacoma-based lit club Creative Colloquy.

Since last spring, I've been a frequent contributor to Creative Colloquy's website, where crowd-pleasing stories like "Silver" and "Ashes to Ashes" made their debut. CC gets together for public readings once a month at the B Sharp Coffee House in Tacoma's Opera Alley. This month, the meeting's at 7 p.m. on Monday the 20th. I can't be there due to play rehearsal, so instead my friend and fellow thespian Deya Ozburn graciously contented to read a new story called "Retreat." That story's been posted on CreativeColloquy.com, or, if you live in Olympia, you can hear it read live by actor Deya Ozburn this Wednesday at the Midnight Sun's Wordstock event.

"Retreat" is set during the ramp-up to the grand opening weekend of the adult theme park, Bliss Panerotic. If you enjoy the story, by all means, please download Mr. Klein's Wild Ride from Smashwords. You'll find the novel there in forms suitable for any ebook reader, including your computer, phone or tablet. You can even download the first fifteen percent as a free sample. Or, if you're a diehard fan of Amazon's Kindle Store, you can download it there. It's only two clicks away! And if you've purchased any of my other books on Amazon already, congratulations, you qualify for a special price of $1.99. Everyone else pays the still-reasonable cover price of just $4.99.

Happy reading, and I'll see you at the gates of Bliss Panerotic!

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2Jul/150

Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride Starts…NOW!

Gentle Reader, we have so freakin' much news for you today!

Carv here. If it seems I've let Lynn do most of the heavy lifting this week, rest assured I was up to my eyeballs in EPUB modifications, alt tags, index errors....You know: fun stuff. Meanwhile, Lynn was searching through Gary Klein's archive of behind-the-scenes park memorabilia from Bliss Panerotic. Her conversations with Gary have been setting my ears on fire, at least during rare moments when I've had time to listen. In other words, as the troubadour of olde put it, she got the goldmine, and I got the shaft. But that's only fair, I suppose, as Mr. Klein's Wild Ride is mostly Lynn's book. I did a fair amount of copy-editing and research, but she's the one who got Gary to open up about his time on Catalina. You can understand why he'd be so reluctant. Given the crap he's been given by smirking talk show hosts, not to mention the public airing of his every sexual whim, this has been a rough month for Gary and his family.

The thing is, he's still pretty funny. And yes, since we're long past the point of yelling "TMI," he's decided to let it all hang out in our pages. You'll read every steamy detail of the lurid, polyamorous goings-on at America's first adults-only sexual theme park. Not to put too fine a point on it, this book is hot enough to fry an egg and two strips of bacon with sizzle left over for an order of hash browns. Is it erotica? No, not exactly. It certainly has more to say about twenty-first-century romance and marriage than any volume of Fifty Shades. It's more like Fifty Additional IQ Points, or Jurassic World with higher-thread-count sheets.

And no, by the way, we did not know Jurassic World would open the same day as Bliss Panerotic when park construction, not to mention Lynn's book, got underway. But hey, Chris Pratt, if you want to produce and star in the feature film, be our guest. You'll find the rights surprisingly affordable.

The midnight hour is upon us. This book is going live. As the day progresses, you'll find versions for every common e-reader, phone or tablet at the Smashwords link here. The EPUB version is ready fresh out of the gate, so get your copy today! It's Fourth of July weekend, so bring on the fireworks!

Were you one of the thousands of guests at Bliss Panerotic's tragicomic opening weekend? If so, we'd be thrilled to hear your story. (It's okay, you can whisper it in our ears. Your secrets are safe with us! Mostly!) And if you enjoy the book, please do us the huge favor of reviewing it positively on Smashwords and elsewhere. For an e-book like this one, public thumbs-up matter more than you know. We appreciate your enthusiastic partnership in the future of Mr. Klein's Wild Ride. So have a magical Fourth and, on behalf of Lynn Savage, happy reading!

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride cover

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride cover

Smashwords link to MR. KLEIN'S WILD RIDE

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2Jul/150

Packed and Ready

--by Lynn Savage

Carv and I have had a busy week! In fact, you could say we're doing our best impression of a proverbial one-legged contest entrant, what with readying Mr. Klein's Wild Ride for publication and creating pristine new copies of Carv's previous works as Smashwords e-books. It's a tall order. Smashwords is a wonderfully author-friendly company, but its auto-vetting software and cover requirements have been known to send calmer authors into sobbing hysterics. The result will be worth all the writer's cramps. We have a new book coming out!

Tomorrow, in fact!

Why, if you were to click, say, here, you would probably find that you were sent to my Smashwords author page. There you'd find preorder information for Mr. Klein's Wild Ride. Buy it now, sexy people, and it'll be ready at midnight for your beach-reading pleasure over this hot Fourth of July weekend! Carv says our book is smart and funny, so you'll even feel good about downloading a novel that cab IN NO WAY be said to be kid-friendly.

Take a walk on the wild side!

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride title banner

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride title banner

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3Jan/142

A Happier, Sexier Me

"Just once after a checkup, I'd like my doctor to look up from her clipboard and say, 'Well, Mr. Carvajal, it says here you're...sexy.'"--a joke I've made at least a dozen times

My father-in-law made a crack after my last post that Carv's Thinky Blog was less agnostic than antagonistic. I know he meant that remark as a good-humored play on words, but it nestled in my head the wrong way. Is that what I've become, I thought--a constant adversary? Am I a killjoy? Does this blog do any good at all, or does it simply poke fun at its readers for cherished beliefs? I think it's important to ask myself these uncomfortable questions once in a while, just as I think it's important for you to confront why you believe what you do. We could all be wrong about anything or everything. It's a discouraging fact of life, but acknowledging it makes us smarter, maybe even better people.

I do my best to weigh seriously any argument presented to me. If I say something disparaging about Genesis, please understand I've actually studied Genesis in microscopic detail (Rereading the Bible, copyright 2011), so I've probably considered any objection one could raise in its defense. If not, I want to know where I've gone wrong. That's why I've always welcomed rational debate on any point, even as I did my best to keep things mutually civil and respectful. I'm not trying to make anyone unhappy, including me. Over the past few weeks, I've thought a great deal about why I write the way I do and why these subjects fascinate me so. Like many of you, I was raised in a fundamentalist religion. It's part of me. It's an element of my morality and the way I process information. But for all the bad days and inhibited social development, I'm not mad at my religion. I'm not mad at your religion or at you for having it. I don't think less of you for believing in God, even the Biblical Yahweh. I don't share your belief, but I'm friends with people who don't care for Star Wars (the closest thing I have to a religion) and we get along just fine so I know it can be done.

There was a time--and y'know, it may have lasted decades--when I felt a thrill of superiority while arguing with Christians. It gave me a charge to think I knew more than the person to whom I was talking. "You hold this book sacred," I'd think to myself, "yet you know almost nothing about it." And while that may have been true, it wasn't the whole or important truth. I know nothing about auto repair, for example, and while that does cost me money, it doesn't make me a less respect-worthy person. So I'm over all that, I promise you I am. It's a phase every apostate goes through, and it might even be necessary in the face of all the tugging and hostility and guilt trips we receive from people close to us. Our superiority buffers us against isolation. I don't need it anymore. My life is rich with love and friendship, as it has been for years.

People ask me what I think about the upcoming debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham, a Biblical creationist, at the so-called "Creation Museum" in Kentucky. My prediction? Nye will mop the floor with Mr. Ham...and still lose. The facts will be on Nye's side, every one of them, and he'll have a much better understanding of logic and evidence than Ham--yet Ham will walk away victorious. How does that work? Well, by debating Nye, Ham achieves an equal Q rating with Nye. He appears to gain equal credibility and stature. People won't pay attention to what Nye says, no matter how knowledgeable and interesting he is, but they will notice hey, kids! There's a Creation Museum! Pack the SUV! This debate elevates creationism to an altitude it doesn't deserve. It has no science to debate. It's not a working hypothesis. It's already been disproved a hundred ways. If it were true, flu shots wouldn't be necessary, nor would they work. If it were true, we wouldn't have mountains of fossils from longer than six thousand years ago. If it were true, the oldest human fossils would come from the Middle East, not Africa, and they wouldn't look simian. Should we also debate germ theory with an exorcist, or the curvature of the horizon with some yahoo from the Flat Earth Society? Gimme a break.

But evidence doesn't matter in this debate. You've read mine. Some of you have read every word of it. So have I changed one mind? Nope. I have not. Not through this blog or my book, anyway. The evidence is all on my side, but that doesn't matter. I've realized something these last few days, to a degree I may have never understood it before. The fact is, most of us don't believe what we believe due to evidence. That's a secondary concern. We didn't weigh all the data in college and come to an informed, adult decision; we decided as children. We believe because we like the promised outcomes of our belief. You may know somewhere deep down in your mind that the Adam and Eve story is a preposterous myth; you may even park it in some vague Heisenberg uncertainty zone in your brain next to Heaven, Hell, the Devil, Noah's Deluge, and the non-subjective value of prayer. But for all practical purposes, you'll go on believing in Genesis because if you do, you've been told you'll live forever and make God super proud of you and earn jewels for a crown in Heaven. And that's a pretty great deal! I can see why you'd be reluctant to give that up. The feeling of superiority I got in place of all that was by no means sufficient reason to change my mind. What happened instead was this: I stopped believing in my rewards for belief. I could no longer convince myself the Cosmos was going to cough up those goodies. It started to seem arrogant of me to even expect such wonderful treatment. Why me, not a porpoise or octopus? In the grand scheme of things, was I really so much more intelligent or moral than a dolphin or bonobo?

In this regard, I think I had an advantage many of you did not. Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in the immortality of the soul, so I never did. They don't believe most believers go to Heaven. They don't believe anyone goes to Hell. And they emphasize the eternal perfection of God's wonderful plan (you know, that strategy wherein the only way Omnipotent God can end sadness and mortality is by killing His own son and then waiting for thousands of years), and that doctrine kinda got in the way of believing I could change Jehovah's perfect, eternal plan by asking nicely. So the Witnesses offered little, to me at least, in the way of self-serving rewards for devotion. Instead, they offered the charge of being right: morally right, and, more importantly, intellectually right. I felt pride, that most Christian of sins, in knowing I knew more about the Bible than other Christians. So when I found out I wasn't right at all, any reward I felt went right out the window. From then on, disbelieving in all the rest was a comparatively easy step.

You, on the other hand, retain that crown in your future! Lord A'mighty...ya gotta get that crown! So even if some part of you reads this blog, or any other agnostic commentary, and thinks, "Y'know, Carv may be onto something there," you'll probably still go right on believing that stuff you learned on Daddy's knee. I've met astrophysicists who went right on believing underneath all the science they knew. I had this amazing math professor, one of the smartest people I ever met, who could talk with undeniable authority about logic and Euclidean proof and the overwhelming evidence for evolutionary taxonomy, then go right on believing Genesis's magic garden story at the very same time. She understood this was a clear example of cognitive dissonance, yet the rewards for believing the Bible overcame her comprehension. Bill Nye won't change anyone's mind. Nor will Bill Maher, nor Richard Dawkins, nor I. Even the great Carl Sagan didn't change my mind, though he certainly reinforced my changing views. The facts were there before me always, I just had to wait to see them clearly until competing rewards sorted out.

So yes, I probably will talk some more about the Bible and Bill Nye and all that wonderful stuff, but mostly because I find it interesting myself. I know you'll still believe everything you want to believe. My facts and logic represent no threat to that. We'll all stay friends, and in some ways, you'll be happier than me, because your rewards will be better than mine. It's the hook of Pascal's wager, and it's something we nonbelievers will have to accept and get over. Godspeed, my friends. Enjoy what makes you happy. Life is hard enough without me knocking jewels off your crown all the time.

Instead, I plan to make you uncomfortable a whole different way, by talking about sex more this year. One of the nice things about being an agnostic is I don't have any great reason not to do that. Fornication isn't immoral in my world. Sex is a part of life, a fun part if all goes well, and almost all my readers have sex as well so you can't exactly act like you're shocked. I recognize we've made a cultural decision not to talk about sex in the workplace, but I work mostly for myself. So as this year rolls along, this blog will shift back to its intended purpose, which was to provide a place for me to talk about and market solo writing efforts. I'm in the process of trying to sell a new book about sexuality, and I have some ideas in that regard. (Coming soon, yuk yuk yuk.)

A caveat, and I think I've said this before: don't go overboard thinking I'm revealing my own sex life when I talk about sex in general terms. If you ask me in person, I'll probably tell you anything you want to know about my own experiences. For the record, 90% of them have been great, so if you've been part of my sex life over the last twenty-something years, give yourself a pat on the back (or wherever you feel it's most appropriate). I'm not going to reveal your secrets here, though. It takes two to tango, and I can't really talk about my own history without describing other people. They didn't sign up for that, so it ain't gonna happen. If my friend Gary Klein, for example, tells you something about his life here, that's on Gary. I mention him in particular because he's the narrator of the book I'm trying to sell now, an insider's look at the Bliss Panerotic debacle on Santa Catalina Island a while back. Gary was the brand management director for Bliss, so he was there when it--well. You remember. We won't get into that now. My point is, what Gary reveals about his sexual (mis)adventures applies only to Gary, not to me or anyone on my sexual CV.

Ultimately, I just want to be as happy as I can be. Part of that is feeling artistically fulfilled, and that includes conversations about subjects I want to talk about. You can keep your weather and local sports franchise, I'm more turned on by conversational taboos like religion and sex. At age 45, I find sexuality fascinating, though not in that OMG-I've-gotta-have-it-ASAP way we feel in our twenties and thirties. Instead, sex is simply a grand essential of human nature that I find rich and revealing. Freed from hormonal desperation, I can talk about sex from an overview, like a seasoned traveler who's made hundreds of trips to London. He loves the city, sure, and he's always happy to talk about it; he just doesn't need to hop on a plane and go there right now.

Here's hoping you'll continue to find this blog worthwhile and interesting, and that you won't always feel I'm trying to put you on the defensive. If, for example, you think sex should be totally private and has no place in public conversation, then more power to you. I guess we'll see less of you here, but that's your prerogative. If you're an atheist or agnostic who loved having me out here fighting for truth, logic, and the evolutionist way, I appreciate that, too; but dude, I don't want to spend any more time working as anyone's bulldog. I'm a lover, not a fighter. I'll let Dawkins and Nye have that fun.

Let's get it on! Happy 2014, everybody!

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